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The premium division of Nissan, it is a luxury brand that aims to challenge Audi, Mercedes and BMW in Europe, just as it has successfully done in the US for the past 2 decades.
It is also now a sponsor of Red Bull Racing, being displayed proudly on the cars (Seb Vet becoming an FX50 driver accordingly).
What IS an Infiniti, though? Here are 10 hallmarks of the brand, that I discovered after an introductory two days to Infiniti, Infiniti cars and Infiniti dealers (sorry, Centres).
1 Infiniti eschews salespeople
It instead has Infiniti ambassadors, which are salespeople-plus. They’re the customer’s sole contact point with the brand (both before and after sale), and act as a conduit for all things Infiniti. The idea is to be less of a salesperson, more of a business partner.
2 Infiniti is not the only car customers own
Surveys show Infiniti buyers own an average of 3 cars. Other models in the stable are usually Aston Martin, Bentley and so forth.
3 Infiniti Centres have extra-wide parking spaces
Surveys told Infiniti that customers hate not being able to park outside the showroom. This is thus prioritised at all its centres. Furthermore, as the customers more often than not drive big, wide cars (Bentley Continental GT, Audi Q7, etc), the spaces are made extra-wide, to make things easier for them.
4 Infiniti spends its money wisely
The brand doesn’t have a limitless UK marketing budget, so what IS there is spent on the important areas. Those interested in Infiniti indicated they like the upmarket lifestyle, appreciate the trappings of luxury hotels at home – and have great coffee tables. Infiniti thus produces, yes, an ultra-lavish customer magazine, impeccably designed, that is heavyweight, classy and certainly wowed my girlfriend Tam.
5 Infiniti practices car handover artistry
Infiniti doesn’t just give a customer a set of keys – it performs a ‘handover ceremony’, Japanese-style, in which the car is revealed by pulling away a rich purple silk sheet. This replicates Japanese tradition and shows off the firm’s roots: after all, it’s partly what people are buying the cars for.
6 Infiniti dealers are like hotels
All Infiniti showrooms are modelled on luxury hotels: there’s a reception area, where visitors are greeted and offered a coffee; the inside is a haven of soft light, natural wood and stone; it’s packed with bespoke fine art; the cars are laid out to a set template with plenty of space around them. It’s scientific, too. Why is the painting behind the receptionist blue? Because apparently, this is the most soothing and relaxing colour…
7 Infiniti likes purple
I didn’t get this at first – why do Infiniti press USB sticks have purple cords? Because that’s the signature colour for the brand, and the Royal colour of Japan. Centuries ago, I was told, only the uber-rich could afford purple dye: it’s always thus been synonymous with luxury.
8 Infiniti is growing systematically
Infiniti didn’t have any diesels at first, much to the amusement of some commentators. Now, it has them. And a hybrid. AND the EU bosses are on the phone to Japan, telling them to make even more economical diesels. It’s all part of a long-term plan, to lay roots and then grow from them. Besides, you don’t need to chase volume when your dealer network isn’t in place – hence, getting away with petrols, and waiting for the other stuff.
9 Infiniti is about Total Ownership Experience
It’s Infiniti DNA, the TQE. It’s talioring to customers’ lives and lifestyles, not just the cars they own. It could almost be said that the car is secondary: buying an Infiniti is a route into TQE, an access card to the lifestyle, rather than buying a car for the car itself.
10 Infiniti dealers use IREDI
Infiniti dealers have a design concept, no less: Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative. This was invented in 2005 and is applied to all dealers worldwide. It’s a framework that’s flexible – it demands all Infiniti EU dealers will have a minimum showroom size and space to display 6 cars… but the furnishings, materials and artwork within them can be chosen from a catalogue. A bit like when Fiat dealers started being fitted out from the Ikea catalogue, but much posher.
There’s plenty more besides, from this intriguing and beguiling new luxury brand. The cars aren’t BMW-beaters for dynamics, nor are they charismatic like Jaguars. This is a different sort of luxury, that appeals to modern lifestyles, and has that leftfield, slightly underground cool that really should help win it traction.
Infiniti is about much more than just the cars. They are impeccably built and do all that they should, but they key part is the the luxury lifestyle that comes with ‘em. Take time to understand it and there’s lots to like.
No, it’s not for everyone. That’s the whole point. That’s why it’s a new luxury brand that should succeed. Goodness, who just wants more of the same?
And for an added bonus…
11 Infiniti is NOT sold in Japan
Bizarre but true! (Thanks to my car industry insider there…)